« EdellinenJatka »
their master, though a stranger, than to be governed by the Romans themselves, who, for so many years, had held the first rank in that country.”
Pyrrhus might possibly be master of all these great qualities ; but I cannot comprehend, why Hannibal should represent him as the first who taught the art of encamping. Were not several Grecian kings and generals masters of this art before him? The Romans, indeed, Icarnt it from him, and Hannibal's evidence extends no farther. However, these extraordinary qualities alone, are not sufficient to constitute a great commander ; and even proved ineffectual to him on several occasions. He was defeated by the Romans near Asculum, merely for having chosen his ground ill. He failed in his attempt on Sparta, by deferring the attack for a few hours. He lost Sicily, by his injudicious treatment of the people ; and was himself killed at Argos, for venturing too rashly into an enemy's city. We might also enumerate a variety of other errors committed by him, with reference even to military affairs.
Is it not entirely inconsistent with the rank and duty of a great general, and especially of a king, to be always exposing his person, without the least precaution, like a common soldier ; to charge in the foremost ranks, like a common adventurer; to be more vain of a personal action, which only shews strength and intrepidity, than a wise and attentive conduct, so essential to a general, vigilant for the general safety, who never confounds his own merit and functions with those of a private soldier ? We may even observe the same defects to have been very apparent, in the kings and gencrals of this age, who undoubtedly were led into it by the false lustre of Alexander's successful temerity. VOL. 6.
May it not be also said that Pyrrhus was deficient, in not observing any rule in his military enterprises, and in plunging blindly into wars, without reflection, without cause, through temperament, passion, habit, and mere incapacity, to continue in a state of tranquillity, or pass any part of his time to his satisfaction, unless he was tilting with all the world ? The reader will, I hope, forgive me the oddness of that expression, since a character of this nature seems, in my opinion, very
much to resemble that of the heroes, and knights errant of romances.
But no fault is more obvious in Pyrrhus's character, nor must have shocked my readers more, than his forming his enterprises without the least maturity of thought, and abandoning himself, without examination, to the least appearances of success ; frequently changing his views, on such slender occasions, as discover no consistency of design, and even little judgnient ; in a word, beginning every thing, and ending nothing. His whole life was a continued series of uncertainty, and variation ; and while he suffered his restless and impetuous ambition to hurry him, at different times, into Sicily, Italy, Macedonia, and Greece ; his cares and attention were employed no where so little as in Epirus, the land of his nativity, and his hereditary dominions. Let us then allow him the title of a great captain, if valor and intrepidity alone are sufficient to deserve it ; for in these qualities, no man was ever his superior. When we behold him in his battles, we think ourselves spectators of the vivacity, intrepidity, and martial ardour of Alexander ; but he certainly had not the qualities of a good king, who, when he really loves his people, makes his valor consist in their defence, his happiness in making them happy, and his glory in their peace and security.
• The reputation of the Romans beginning now to spread through foreign nations, by the war they had maintained for six years against Pyrrhus, whom at length they compel to retire from Italy, and return ignominiously to Epirus ;. Ptolemy Philadelphuis sent ambassadors to desire their friendship, and the Romans were charmed to find it solicited by so great a king.
* An embassy was also sent from Rome to Egypt the following year, in return to the civilities of Ptolemy. The ambassadors, were Q. Fabius Gurges, Cn. Fabius Pictor, with Numerius, his brother, and Q. Ogulnius. The disinterested air with which they appeared, sufficiently indicated the greatness of their souls. Ptolemy gave them a splendid entertainment, and took that opportunity to present each of them with a crown of gold; which they received, because they were unwilling to disoblige him by declining the honour he intended them ; but they went the next morning, and placed them on the head of the king's statues erected in the public parts of the city. The king having likewise tendered them very considerable presents, at their audience of leave, they received them as they before accepted of the crowns; but before they went to the senate, to give an account of their embassy, after their arrival at Rome, they deposited all those presents in the public treasury,
and made it evident, by so noble a conduct,
A. M. 3730. Ant. J. C. 274. Liv Epit. 1. 4. Eutrop. 1. 2. d A. M. 3731. Ant. J. C. 273. Livi & Eutrop. ibid. Val. Max. 1, 4. c. 3. Dion. in Excerpt.
that persons of honour ought, when they serve the pube lic, to propose no other advantage to themselves, than the honour of acquitting themselves well of their duty, The republic, however, would not suffer itself to be exceeded in generosity of sentiments. The senate and people came to a resolution, that the ambassadors, in consideration of the services they had rendered the state, should receive a sum of money equivalent to that they had deposited in the public treasury. This indeed was an amiable contest between generosity and glory, and one is at a loss to know, to which of the antagonists to ascribe the victory. Where shall we now find men, who devote themselves, in such a manner, to the public good, without any interested expectations of a return; and who enter upon employments in the state, without the least view of enriching themselves ? But let me add too, where shall we find states and princes, who know how to esteem and recompense merit in this manner? We may observe here, says an historian, three fine models set before us in the noble liberality of Ptolemy, the disinterested spirit of the ambassadors, and the grateful equity of the Romans.
The Greeks, after they had been subjected by the Macedonians, and rendered dependent on their authority, seemed, by losing their liberty, to have been also
divested of that courage, and greatness of soul, by which they had been till then so eminently distinguished from other people. They appeared entirely changed, and to have lost all similitude to their ancient char. acter. Sparta, that was once so bold and imperious, and in a manner possessed of the sovereignty of all Greece, patiently bowed down her neck, at last, beneath a foreign yoke ; and we shall soon behold her subjected to domestic tyrants, who will treat her with the utmost cruelty. We shall see Athens, once so jealous of her liberty, and so formidable to the most powerful kings, running headlong into slavery, and, as she changes her masters, successively paying them the homage of the basest and most abject adulation. Each of these cities will, from time to time, make some efforts to reinstate themselves in their ancient liberties, but impetuously, and without success.
i Antigonus Gonatas, king of Macedonia, became very powerful, some years after the death of Pyrrhus, and thereby formidable to the states of Greece. The Lacedemonians, therefore, entered into a league with the Athenians against him, and engaged Ptolemy Philadelphus to accede to it. Antigonus, in order to frustrate the confederacy which these two states had formed against him, and to prevent the consequences that might result from it, immediately began hostilities with the siege of Athens; but Ptolemy soon sent a fleet thither, under the command of Patroclus, one of his generals; while Areus, king of Lacedemon, put himself at the head of an army to succour that city by land. Patroclus,
FA. M. 3736. Ant. J. C. 268. Justin. 1, xxvi. c. 2. Pausan. in La. con. p. 168, et in Attic. p. 1.